It could be a peaceful little village from the pages of a Tolkien novel, except that it only exists in my head, when I’m asleep and dreaming.
I often find myself there at some point during my sleep cycle. The houses are tall with cobbled facades, and outside each is parked a vintage car. Before I even see the old mill, I know that I’ve stepped back in time. It’s quiet apart from birdsong and the occasional grocer’s van.
According to a sign, Cheltenham (my hometown) is north-west of Willingden. I keep this in mind while I investigate the old fashioned shops and have a go at sewing my own clothes. There’s a tea shop, a disused railway tunnel and fields to walk through. There’s a cinema/theatre painted green, and an old fashioned high street.
There is also the Church Green, where the signs pointing at Cheltenham merge into village names that you’ve not heard of. You follow the signs and find yourself looking at an active forge, a forest, or a country path – even an entire new village. You never do get back to Cheltenham and eventually you realise that you don’t want to. Willingden is small and peaceful – somewhat like Hobbiton but with larger houses.
I have no idea where the name comes from in my mind – it’s just always been there. Perhaps I’m dreaming of the perfect environment and making it so real in my head that I can actually live in it for a while. No noisy dogs, no pollution… just peace and beauty.
Welcome to a slice of my dream world.